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The Japanese Home with a Timber Glow

April Kennedy April Kennedy
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Today on homify we will travel to Japan to explore a two-storey timber home that presents a gentle fusion of Japanese and western architectural elements. The property is located on the Wakayama Prefecture on the Kii Peninsula in Japan. This area is renowned for its sacred, mountainous regions and warm, mild weather.

The architects Tsuji-Chika have created a home that really takes advantage of the mild weather. The 103-square metre property is located at a bend in a small lane that seems to hug the home. While some might see the slightly unusual location as limitation, the architect has used it to take advantage of the breezy potential. The upper level that faces the street is covered in open timber shutters. These imbue the exterior with its unique, warm presence and invite lots of fresh, warm air to flow through the home. But before we give too much away, let's start our photo tour!

Understated wooden facade

The upper level dominates the contemporary exterior and the large timber shutters offer a warm, natural look. These shutters are sure to gather lots of fresh mountain air from both sides of the home. This kind of design could obviously invite unwelcome noise in an urban city. But, although the home is located in a bend in the road, it's a narrow laneway that's sure to receive little traffic. Note the small entrance to the left.

Japanese-style genkan or entrance

On entering the home, we come to a traditional Japanese-style Genkan or entrance that is used to formally greet visitors. It's a little hard to see here, but there would normally be a getabako here for storing shoes. There is also a small fireplace to make visitors cosy. As we will see in the rest of the home, the decor is simple, Zen-like and there's an abundance of simple, timber elements.

Exterior shoji wall

The minimalist dining and living room has an exterior Shoji wall. These were traditionally used for separating interior spaces within Japanese homes. But these days, Shoji walls are often used to in dense urban settings where the design allows for lots of private light to enter the home. The delicate, rice paper walls are protected of course with an exterior wall of glass.

Finally, we love how the wooden platform has been used to delineate the different zones within the room.

Western-style dining table

The dining zone has a very warm, natural appearance. It also has a western-style dining table that's set higher off the ground than we would normally see in a traditional Japanese home. But the fusion here is held together with the strong natural wooden elements and traditional minimalist treatment. Japanese design is known for its focus on nature and this space definitely has that feel.

Large sliding doors

The living room opens up into the front courtyard with the help of some large sliding doors. They allow lots of light and airflow to penetrate the interior. At the same time, the area is partially hidden from the front road with the help of a low wall. Finally, note the raised floor panel adjacent to the glass doors. This forces the occupants to step up before moving outdoors. This is a feature prevalent in Japanese architecture. It is used to mark the transitional point and encourage a person to acknowledge the shift in focus.

Timber shutters for generous air flow

Upstairs, we come to the balcony with large wooden shutters in a very minimalist design. There is no option to completely close the shutters, but the closely set panels provide adequate privacy. There's also a large sliding glass door on the right. This is a very simply, but effectively designed outdoor area. See how the balcony railing has been designed in a very minimalist way. The simple timber railing blends into the rest of the area and created a very unified, natural look.

Timber mezzanine bedroom

We will end our tour in the timber bedroom. Bed-rolls are normally rolled up and tucked away, so there are few furnishings to explore. But the bedroom offers a warm, welcoming ambience nonetheless. This is largely due to the cream walls, exposed beams and the wooden surfaces. A single exposed timber beam has been installed to support a wooden mezzanine on the upper level. It's a peaceful space that's just perfect for sleeping.

If you're interested in timber homes, you'll love our ideabook Before and After: From Drab to Delightful.

What do you think of the lovely timber shutters on this home? We would love to hear in the comments below!
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